Kentucky’s legislative session begins today, and marijuana policy reforms are already among the top issues being discussed in Frankfort. Lawmakers have indicated that they will soon be introducing several marijuana policy bills, including a medical cannabis bill, a decriminalization bill, and an adult-use legalization bill.
Although we support all of these bills, we believe the bill that has the strongest chance of passing in 2019 is the medical cannabis bill that will soon be introduced by Republican Reps. Jason Nemes and Diane St. Onge. A few months ago, Rep. Nemes confidently predicted that it would pass the legislature in 2019. However, we know that the effort will face strong opposition in the Senate, where Majority Leader Damon Thayer recently said, “I don't see the votes for medical marijuana yet.”
In order for this bill to pass, legislators will need to hear an outpouring of support from their constituents. After you write your elected officials, please share this message with your friends and family!
This year, there have been many encouraging signs that Kentucky is making progress towards allowing medical cannabis. Gov. Matt Bevin has clearly indicated his support for medical cannabis legislation, and several new legislative champions have emerged, led by Reps. Jason Nemes and Diane St. Onge. Unfortunately, Senate President Robert Stivers continues to claim that he hasn’t seen any evidence that medical cannabis is effective.
Sen. Stivers’ opposition has long been a source of frustration for patients and advocates, but his recent comments on the issue have been truly infuriating. Last week, while speaking to the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Sen. Stivers reportedly suggested that if patients want to “relax” or “feel better,” they should drink bourbon instead of trying medical cannabis.
Sen. Stivers is now facing heavy criticism for these comments in the Louisville Courier-Journal and elsewhere. Please take a moment to call Sen. Stivers’ office today and let him know how you feel about hearing such an uninformed and callous statement from the President of the Kentucky Senate. If you’re on Twitter, you can also voice your opinion in a tweet.
After you call Sen. Stivers’ office, please share this message with your family and friends!
There has been a tremendous groundswell of support for medical cannabis in Kentucky this year, and the legislature is finally beginning to listen. Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee began considering testimony in support of HB 166, a bill that would make Kentucky the 30th state to pass an effective medical cannabis law. A similar bill, SB 118, has already generated quite a bit of discussion in the Senate.
Patients who are struggling with serious medical conditions in Kentucky have already waited far too long for legal protections and safe, legal access to cannabis. The current legislative session is scheduled to end in mid-April, so it’s time for representatives and senators to demonstrate strong leadership on the issue.
If you are a Kentucky resident, please email your representatives and senators right now and urge them to support medical cannabis legislation in 2018.
The Kentucky Legislature began its 2018 session last week, and marijuana policy reforms are already among the top issues being discussed in Frankfort. A medical cannabis bill, HB 166, has already been introduced in the House.
But that’s not all. Sen. Dan Seum, chairman of the Republican Senate Caucus, held a press conference to announce that he is introducing a bill, SB 80, that would legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis for adults 21 and older.
If you are a Kentucky resident, please send your representatives and senators a message and urge them to support reforming marijuana laws in 2018.
MPP is excited to be moving into 2018 at a time when marijuana policy reform has unprecedented momentum. While there are sure to be challenges ahead, MPP is confident that we will make great strides this year.
You can find the strategic plan here.
In a great sign of things to come, one of our goals is already on the verge of success. On Thursday, the Vermont legislature passed a bill that would make possession and limited home cultivation legal in the Green Mountain State! The bill is expected to be signed into law in the coming weeks.
The lack of progress on marijuana policy reform in Kentucky has been frustrating, but it appears that the tide may finally be turning. Last week, Senator Dan Malano Seum (R-Fairdale) gave Kentuckians something to get excited about when he announced that he would sponsor a bill to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana.
Advocates couldn’t ask for a more influential champion than Senator Seum. He has been in the state Senate for more than 20 years, and he currently serves as caucus chairman for the Senate Republicans, who hold a 27-11 majority in Frankfort. However, he won’t be able to pass this bill unless he receives a great deal of support from his colleagues.
If you are a Kentucky resident, please email your representative and senator today, and urge them to support Senator Seum’s proposal!
We expect that this bill will be introduced in early 2018, but the important work of building statewide support for reform must begin now.
Sen. Perry Clark has introduced two bills that would overhaul marijuana policies in Kentucky. SB 57 would make medical marijuana legal for seriously ill Kentuckians, and SB 72 would legalize marijuana for adult use and create a regulated and taxed system.
SB 57 would protect qualifying patients from arrest and allow them to cultivate marijuana plants. It would also allow them to obtain medical marijuana from dispensaries, which would be regulated by the state.
SB 72 would take Kentucky in the direction of the eight states that have voted to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use. This would divert millions of dollars away from the illicit drug market and into the hands of Kentucky businesses that would be regulated and taxed by the state. Unfortunately, legislators are not likely to take this bill as seriously in 2017, so we believe it may be best to focus email advocacy in support of the medical marijuana bill until the political landscape changes.
The Kentucky Legislature reconvened last week for the 2017-18 session, and Sen. Perry Clark has already prefiled two bills that would reform marijuana laws in the Commonwealth. One bill would end Kentucky’s criminalization of adult marijuana consumers, instead taxing and regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol. Another bill would permit seriously ill Kentuckians — both adults and minors — to access medical marijuana.
Effective medical marijuana programs have been created in 28 states, and Kentucky patients should have the same access. Meanwhile, legalizing marijuana for adult use would allow the state to generate tax revenue from adult marijuana sales while providing the tools needed to adequately regulate the production and sale of marijuana.
Under current laws, possession of less than eight ounces of marijuana is punishable by 45 days in jail and a $250 fine. There is a narrow medical exception for patients with intractable seizures, but the marijuana must be provided by a physician, which would be a violation of federal law.
On July , the Interim Joint Committee on Licensing and Occupations held a public hearing to consider testimony on the medical use of marijuana. At a press conference prior to the hearing, patients received a strong endorsement from the Kentucky Nurses Association, which announced its support for the proposed reform.
“I hope that folks are going to see that when registered nurses say this is an important access to care issue, that folks are going to look at it as the medical and patient care issue that it is and not as a social issue,” said Maureen Keenan, executive director of the KNA.
It is apparent that some Kentucky legislators are evolving on the issue and becoming supporters of allowing medical marijuana. However, others remain vigorously opposed, and many still seem reluctant to discuss the issue in public. If you are a Kentucky resident, please take a moment to send your elected officials a message in support of medical marijuana legislation.
On Tuesday, Kentucky voters took to the polls and elected Matt Bevin governor. Bevin, a Republican and Tea Party favorite, has acknowledged what the vast majority of voters know: “There is unequivocal medical evidence” that medical marijuana is beneficial for certain conditions. He defeated prohibitionist Jack Conway (D) 52.5% to 43.8%.
With House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D) sponsoring medical marijuana legislation, next year holds great promise for the state taking a serious, bipartisan look at a more compassionate approach.
Americans living in 23 states and the nation’s capital can legally use and access medical cannabis, and upwards of 80% of Americans support allowing the seriously ill to use this beneficial medicine. Yet, some politicians — including defeated gubernatorial candidate Jack Conway — still haven’t gotten the message.
If you are a Kentucky resident, please make sure your lawmakers hear: Voters expect them to end the cruel status quo and to stop forcing patients to risk their freedom to improve their health.